The Draft, Or What’s Left Of It
Here’s everyone the Rangers signed in 2019 after the fifth round for more than $20,000:
6. SS Cody Bradford, $700,000
8. RHP John Matthews, $177,400
9. RHP Zak Kent, $155,800
11. RHP Gavin Collyer, $585,000
13. RHP Ben Anderson, $125,000
18. RHP Marc Church, $300,000
24. RHP Luke Schlitz, $125,000
27. RHP Mason Cole, $85,000
28. SS Jake Hoover, $50,000
30. RHP Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa, $125,000
32. RHP Michael Brewer, $375,000
33. RHP Spencer Mraz, $70,000
38. RHP Jamarcus Lang, $30,000
Okay, maybe these names don’t exactly get the blood pumping right now. Hopefully, some will in 2021. Let’s try some others:
RHP Ricky Vanasco, 2017, 15th round, $200,000
RHP Joe Barlow, 2016, 11th round, $85,000
RHP Kyle Cody, 2016, 6th round, $150,000
C Sam Huff, 2016, 7th round, $225,000
RHP Demarcus Evans, 2015, 25th round, $100,000
RHP Tyler Phillips, 2015, 16th round, $160,000
OF Scott Heineman, 2015, 11th round, $100,000
RHP Peter Fairbanks, 2015, 9th round, $100,000
C Jose Trevino, 2014, 6th round, $200,000
RHP Keone Kela, 2012, 12th round, $100,000
RHP Jerad Eickhoff, 2011, 11th round, $150,000
RHP Kyle Hendricks, 2011, 8th round, $125,000
Next month, none of the 2020 equivalents of Sam Huff, Demarcus Evans and Kyle Hendricks will be drafted. The good news is they become free agents. The bad is that they’re subject to a maximum bonus of $20,000. Again, that group of 2019 picks probably doesn’t mean much to you, but I listed them to emphasize just how drastically this year’s format will affect the Rangers and the lives of prospective draftees.
In late March, the MLB Players Association granted owners the right to reduce the draft to either five or ten rounds and defer 90% of signing bonuses in exchange for full service time and guarantee of partial salaries should the season be cancelled. Unsurprisingly, MLB chose the less expensive option, and this week it is seeking salary discounts beyond straight pro-rations for games played. These are terrible times, and most clubs, to their credit, are trying to cut costs without cutting personnel. On the other hand, MLB does not offer windfall bonuses to players when league revenues exceed expectations, and players didn’t see a dime of the $2.58 billion MLB received for stakes in its Advanced Media unit. Gross player wages actually fell in 2018 and again in 2019. The reduction in the draft, although borne of catastrophic circumstances, dovetails nicely with MLB’s pre-COVID plan to eliminate affiliations with 40 to 42 of the 160 minor league teams outside of spring training complexes.
If you’re of the mind that more baseball is better than less, and that young athletes should be encouraged to choose baseball over other sports, this is a terrible development. In essence, MLB is outsourcing player development for all but the top tier of talent onto colleges and junior colleges. (This is great news for college baseball programs, at least the ones that survive the upcoming decimation of athletic department budgets.) MLB is also telling a number of amateurs, some of whom may be late bloomers that develop into MLB-worthy players, that they should seek employment outside of baseball.
How much do clubs save under a five-round draft? In terms of reduced draft pools, roughly $1,000,000 per team. The actual amount saved might be double that, since teams could sign late-round picks for up to $125,000 without counting against the pool. So, less than the salary of Jeff Mathis or Joely Rodriguez, although any savings are magnified under the present circumstances and could directly impact existing employment within some clubs.
In the long run, I actually like the idea of a shorter draft, say 20 rounds or even ten, if teams have a reasonable budget for signing undrafted players.
The Draft, Mock Version
(Note: all the links in this section are subscription-only.)
ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel published his first mock draft
, sending Tennessee lefty Garrett Crochet to the Rangers with the 14th pick. Coincidentally, when I pretended to be the Texas GM in the ProspectsLive.com draft, I intended to pick Crochet if the far more polished lefty Reid Detmers hadn’t fallen into my lap. (McDaniels has Detmers 11th, and I’ve not seen a mock with him dropping any lower.) Even more coincidentally, McDaniels mentioned Texas as the earliest possible destination for Ohio State catcher Dillon Dingler, who I happily nabbed in the second round, 50th overall.
In Keith Law’s new mock
for The Athletic, the Rangers picked high school OF Pete Crow-Armstrong, who greatly intrigued me but would have been my selection only if Crochet, catcher Patrick Bailey and 1-2 others had already been picked. Law has Oakland selecting Dingler 26th overall.
The latest Baseball America mock
also has the Rangers picking Crochet. I think BA had college catcher Patrick Bailey to Texas in its previous mock.
This year, compensation for unsigned picks extends to the third round. In a separate article
, McDaniels suggests that some cash-strapped teams may aim for cost savings even beyond those already locked in by offering cut-rate bonuses to their picks. If the players sign, the teams save some money. If they don’t, the teams don’t spend a dime and book compensation picks for 2021. Podcast
I'll be recording a new Rangers On Deck podcast in a few minutes with pals Ted Price and Sean Bass. I think Michael Tepid is out today. It should be posted here
and on iTunes later today.